You might have thought of coming out when you’ve figured out your orientation. If you’ve got your mind set on coming out, the next thing you might be wondering is how to do it.
Oftentimes people expect others are straight unless they say otherwise. This could be a reason why people come out and say what their orientation is. Coming out is a very personal process but it could be a liberating and exciting experience to anyone who is ready to do it. There are many reasons as to why you might want to do it. It could be because you:
- Simply want to share who you are and your identity
- Are in a relationship and you’d like to introduce your partner and your relationship to other people
- Are looking for a relationship
- Want to form connections and friendships with people of the same sexual orientation as you
Is your reason for wanting to come out listed above? If not, it’s still ultimately your choice whether you want to come out or not. Wanting to come out is reason enough to go for it! But before you take the first step of your coming out journey, here are a few things you need to know.
You don’t have to come out
You don’t really have to “come out of the closet”, especially if you don’t want to or think that it will cause harm than good. No one should be pressured or forced to come out.
Some opt to not come out because they feel they will not be accepted or it’s too emotionally stressful, private, or dangerous for them. Others simply don’t come out because they don’t feel like it. And that’s alright! Whatever the reason is, it will always be valid. Not coming out doesn’t make you fake or dishonest.
Everyone has their own journey
Everyone has their own unique journey, and no journey is better than the other. Only you know when the right time is to come out.
Some come out young, while others only did it when they were at an older age. Some may not have even come out at all. You may also come out to everyone you know, or just share it with a few people you’re most comfortable with.
Coming out has no rules and no right or wrong way. How you do it will depend on your experience and situation.
Take it one step at a time
Coming out is a process that you don’t need to rush. Take it one step at a time, and come out only when you’re absolutely ready.
You might want to come out to one trusted person first. It could be a loved one or a best friend who’s open-minded, accepting and supportive. If they’re openly queer and experienced coming out, you could ask for tips and support as you go through the process yourself.
There’s no cookie cutter method
Coming out has no right or wrong method, so do what you’re most comfortable with. Face-to-face conversations can be intimidating, especially if you’re anxious about what the person’s reaction will be. But if that’s the method you think is best, then go for it!
You can come out to a friend by just casually mentioning it or going to an LGBTQ+ event. Some even used social media to come out, by posting a picture of themselves at the pride march, accompanied by a heartfelt caption that narrates who they are and their journey.
Other ways you can try are video messages, phone calls, text messages, emails, and handwritten letters. You might want to go with any of these if you’re not really expecting an immediate response and if you’d like to give the person you’re coming out to some space and time to process things.
Think about the time and location
There is no perfect time or place to come out, only the most comfortable, safe, and convenient — and you get to decide when and where this is.
Are you uncomfortable with strangers possibly hearing what you’re about to say? Then you might not want to come out at a public place. But if you’re worried that the person you’re coming out to may become physically violent, then you might want to be in a public place. Also, it’s better to avoid noisy and crowded places so that miscommunications and mishearings won’t happen. You might want to do it at home or somewhere private if you’re comfortable. Have a friend accompany you if you think you need support when you’re coming out.
If you think the person/s you’ll come out to may not take it well, maybe it’s not best to come out during a family gathering or a long flight. It might also not be a good idea if you send out your message to the person you’re coming out to while they’re at work or on vacation.
It doesn’t matter where and when you come out, just make sure that you feel safe and comfortable wherever it may be.
Reactions may vary
Some may be shocked with the news, while others may not believe you. Give them enough time and space to process the news. They may also have questions popping in their minds, such as “how long have you known,” and “are you sure?” You don’t have to answer these questions, unless you want to.
Just remember that no matter what they say, your identity is valid and you know yourself best.
Also, let the person you came out to know whether they can share the news and to whom they can share it with.
Remember that coming out is often a never-ending process rather than a major event in your life. And as you come across a lot of other people in your life, you might have to come out again and again — but, of course, only if you want to.
There may be people who will have negative reactions. You don’t have control over their response, but you can always control how you react to what they say. Try not to take negative responses personally. Remember that what they say is a reflection of who they are, not you.
A lot of people found it helpful to have a strong support system. You can join online LGBTQ+ groups, and meet new friends who share the same story and experience as you.